Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 58 - Respect for Domestic and Personal Privacy Commentary
Adopted from the book: "The Light of the Holy Qur'an - Interpretation of Sura an-Nur" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani & a Group of Muslim Scholars"
Domestic and personal privacy - The controlled and regulated liberty for young and aged women - Control of Social and Domestic relationship
58. "O you who believe! Do let those whom your right hands possess, and those of you who have not reached to puberty, ask permission of you at three times (for coming into your room): before the morning prayer, and at midday when you put off your clothes, and after the night prayer. (These are) three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for you or for them (if) after those (three times), some of you go round attendant upon the others. Thus does Allah make clear the revelations for you; and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise."
Faithful parents are responsible for teaching Divine religious ordinances to their children. The place where parents habitually sleep must be separate and far from the sight of the children, otherwise, there was no need for taking permission, as man must allocate some hours for his wife during 24 hours and issues must not disturb them.
Islam is a religion for life and it is completely comprehensive. It has programs and plans for both common trivial issues such as entrance of children in parent's room (mentioned in this verse) and important matters such as the establishment of universal government.
Anyway, as we said before, the most important issue that is comprehensively discussed in this Sura is the matter of public chastity and righting against any sexual deviation. This verse also is about one of these affairs that relate this issue and it explains its characteristics; the matter is concerned to the mature and immature issues' taking permission when they want to enter the room which belongs to their parents. At first, it says:
"O you who believe! Do let those whom your right hands possess, and those of you who have not reached to puberty, ask permission of you at three times (for coming into your room): before the morning prayer, and at midday when you put off your clothes, and after the night prayer. ..."
As Raqib says in his book, Mufradat, and Firuz'abadi in Qamus, the Arabic word /zahirat/ means midday and about noontime when people take off their outer clothes and man and wife may be together privately.
"... (These are) three times of privacy for you...."
The Arabic word /'aurat/ originally is derived from the word /'ar/ meaning shame and fault. Since showing genital organs is the cause of fault and shame, in Arabic language it is called /'aurat/. Sometimes the word /'aurat/ is also used to mean an opening and cut in wall and dress and the like.
Sometimes it means absolutely fault. Anyway, using this word for these three times is for the matter that people do not compel themselves to be veiled fully as in other times they do and they consider these times their privacy.
It is obvious that this command only involves parents who must force their issues to do this, for children have not come of age yet so that they are not obligated to carry out divine duties, therefore parents are addressed here.
Moreover, the verse is applied to both girls and boys, and the word /'allaoina/ (those) that is a masculine pronoun is not against generality of the concept of the verse, because in many cases this word is used for all people, as we read in the verse that obligates all Muslims to fast, in which the word /'allaoina/ is used to address all Muslims. (Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verse 83)
It is necessary to mention that the verse is about children who can discern and comprehend sexual issues and genital organs, etc, because the matter of taking permission itself indicates that they at least understand what taking permission means. Using the phrase 'Thalatha 'aurat' (Three times of privacy) is another evidence for this meaning, too.
Whether this verse covers male slaves only or it covers female slaves, too, there are various narrations. The verse apparently involves all, that is, it refers to both groups, so the narrations that are in harmony with the appearance of the verse can be preferred.
In the end of the verse, the Qur'an says:
"... It is no sin for you or for them (if) after those (three times), some of you go round attendant upon the others. Thus does Allah make clear the revelations for you; and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise."
The Qur'anic word /tawwafun/ is originally derived from the word /tawaf/, meaning walking about or around something, and since it is used in the form of exaggeration, it means frequency of this matter. With regard to the Qur'anic phrase /ba'dukum 'ala ba'din/ (some of you ... upon others) that has come after it, the concept of the sentence is that you are allowed to do each other favour and to go and to come in other than these three times.
As Fazil Mighdad says in Kanz-ul-'Irfan, this sentence indicates that there is no need for taking permission in other times, because if they want to come and go frequently and they have to take permission, every time it will become a difficult job (Kanz-ul-'Irfan, Vol. 2, P. 225). 119
119. If we look one more time to this Sura from the beginning, we find that the policy of prevention from indecency is behind its verses. For example, adulterer and adulteress should be punished before others' eye (verse 1), their marriage is limited (verse 3), if without four witnesses false accusation is made, 80 stripes should be beaten (verse 4), those who falsely accuse the Prophet's wife will be severely chastised (verse 11), if you heard a false accusation, you must deal with it (verse 12), if one likes spreading indecency, he will be severely chastised in couple (verse 19), do not follow the steps of satan (verse 21) those who accuse pure women falsely will be roughly punished (verse 23), the foul language is uttered by the wicked persons not you (verse 26), do not enter others' house without taking permission and if they say you must return, you must accept and go back (verses 27-28), men and women must not gaze at the one who is within forbidden degrees (verses 30-31), women must not show their ornaments and must not dance everywhere and you must try for the marriage of those who are celibate and you must not fear from poverty (verse 32), and in this verse, your children and slaves must not enter your private room at times when you are at your ease and alone with your wife. Yes, all these commands are for preventing immodesty and immature puberty and saving face and decency.
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